As excited as we get during the Christmas season, as thankful as we feel for the perfect gift of God’s son, there’s some dead space, some apprehension between the warmth and glow of the manger and what we believe God may have in store for us in the future. As we move from “Merry Christmas” to “Happy New Year,” many of us (myself included), face the new year with a great deal of apprehension.
Maybe 2018 didn’t turn out how you hoped. Perhaps tragedy played a big part in your year. Sometimes wondering what God has in store for us is a terrifying thought. We start to think—what will He spring on us next?
I believe this is a false view of the God we serve. This is a picture of a capricious god, a sadistic prankster, who sticks a foot out to trip us, plays roulette with our lives, and then laughs. Or perhaps we just see a god who doesn’t care, who is busy with something else and might be careless with our lives.
I was recently listening to Jamie Ivey’s podcast “The Happy Hour” episode #220 with Tara-Leigh Cobble. In this episode, Jamie and Tara talked at the end about the kindness of God. It was actually pretty remarkable they ended there because Tara has recently experienced a great deal of personal tragedy including the death of two family members. During the conversation, Jamie says, “We don’t deserve anything besides God’s wrath…and then look what he continues to do. He’s so kind. He’s the nicest!”
What does this have to do with the future and a new year? As we look forward, we aren’t promised it will be easy or pleasant, but I know for certain we can trust in the character of our God. He isn’t capricious or sadistic or bored or careless.
I will tell of the kindnesses of the Lord,
the deeds for which he is to be praised,
according to all the Lord has done for us—
yes, the many good things
he has done for Israel,
according to his compassion and many kindnesses.
Isaiah 63:7 (NIV)
Our God saved us because of His kindness, because of His love, because of His compassion. As we look toward 2019, to the future, let’s temper our trepidation with trust that God loves us as His children. Not a hair falls from our head that He doesn’t know about. He is full of kindness and compassion. I love the story from the Bible that illustrates God’s fatherly care found in Luke 11:11-13 (NIV),
Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!
Be on the lookout for God’s kindness because it is who He is. A God rich in mercy, compassion, and loving kindness.
Reader: In spite of the really hard things in life that either lie ahead or that you will continue to face, where is God showing His kind, gentle hand toward you?